November 11, 2013

NIELSENWAR: A Veterans Day Look At Veteran Network Series


NOTE:  Season To Date and Network Week-to-Week Charts Are Below

With today’s CW announcement that THE ORIGINALS, REIGN and THE TOMORROW PEOPLE have received full back orders, we know where we are with just about all this season’s fall premieres.  (HOSTAGES, BETRAYAL and ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND, all technically “short season” shows, don’t face back order issues, but are hugely unlikely to return next fall.)  But the question for today’s holiday, aptly enough, is:  where does that leave the network veterans?  Let’s take a look, network by network.

ABC:  If you had to be a longrunning faltering series, you might want to be on ABC, where there are so many holes on the schedule that a lot of indifferent performers are going to survive.  For example, ONCE UPON A TIME has been falling for more than a season now, and last night it tied its season low 2.1.  Elsewhere it might be at risk, but it’s ABC’s highest-rated Sunday show by far, so it will almost certainly return.  DANCING WITH THE STARS, even reduced to a single 2-hour weekly installment, has remained stagnant at around a 2 rating, but it outscores heavily with older viewers and ABC will have enough hours to fill next fall without adding 2 more.  The real question marks are REVENGE and NASHVILLE.  Both dramas are more consistent creatively than they were last season, but neither has gotten any kind of ratings bump from that, as Revenge tied its series low 1.4 last night, and Nashville was also at 1.4 last week, a new low for that show.  Each has an ancillary factor in its favor, since next season would be the magical 4th for Revenge, meaning enriched syndication/cable deals, while Nashville generates additional revenue from sales of its musical performances.  It may well be that both will perish as ratings drop in the spring, but if one survives, bet on Revenge (although moved from its current timeslot).

NBC:  It’s gotten to the point where it’s actually difficult to get thrown off NBC’s schedule, because the standards have gotten so low.  Even now, just a couple of weeks later, it’s hard to remember why WELCOME TO THE FAMILY was canceled while SEAN SAVES THE WORLD is still on the air.  The Dick Wolf duo of CHICAGO FIRE and SVU are likely safe.  Despite Fire‘s disappointing post-Voice performance this fall, it’s getting an adequate rating and NBC President Bob Greenblatt and his team seem to have convinced themselves that it’s more successful than it actually is, even commissioning a spin-off.  As for SVU, there’s an inexhaustible cable appetite for more episodes.  REVOLUTION, though, may be running out of nano thingies to keep its power on–unless NBC moves it to Friday, where it would pair up better with GRIMM than the put-a-stake-in-it DRACULA is doing.  But Grimm itself is in danger of falling at risk, with ratings in a slump after just 2 fall airings.  The next couple of episodes will be a big test for Grimm, as it airs for the first time this fall against new programming on FOX and is then preempted for a JFK assassination special, returning after a break.  Also a question mark: PARKS & RECREATION, which has survived to the point of syndication and doesn’t need more episodes, and has atrocious ratings… but does NBC really want to cancel all its existing comedies and start from scratch next fall?

CBS:  THE GOOD WIFE is constantly listed as a CBS bubble show, and certainly its ratings are soft (and this year it hit the syndication plateau), but with as much acclaim this season as it’s ever had, and fairly steady numbers–an uptick the last 2 weeks when it aired at 9:45-10PM due to football overruns–it seems fairly safe unless there are cost issues with the cast or producers.  (If CBS did cancel it, one could easily imagine corporate sibling Showtime or Netflix/some other new platform picking it up.)  THE MENTALIST, BLUE BLOODS, and ELEMENTARY all seem shakier on the drama side, with one or more very possibly going away (Mentalist seems most likely).  In comedy, it may be time for the very expensive 2 1/2 MEN to pack its gear, which probably gives MIKE & MOLLY a lease on life, since we already know HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is done.  (A brief off-topic rant:  can we please NOT have HOW I MET YOUR FATHER next fall?  Would CBS give us that very small mercy, as Mother slides through its barely tolerable final season?  Thank you.)

FOX:  Since we already know GLEE and the Sunday animated comedies (except AMERICAN DAD, moving to TBS) will be returning, there aren’t a lot of open issues for FOX.  BONES is probably back unless financial issues get in the way, and THE MINDY PROJECT has a good chance of surviving despite its low ratings unless FOX decides to cut down on its comedies next season.  (We won’t know about RAISING HOPE until it starts airing on Friday.)  The giant question for FOX is THE X FACTOR, which in the last couple of weeks moved from being a sharp disappointment to an actual flop.  If it can’t get some momentum going between now and the end of its season, it may at the very least find itself cut down to 2 hours or less per week.

CW:  The back order for THE ORIGINALS today was a no-brainer, but TOMORROW PEOPLE and REIGN, while not colossal flops, are both distinctly underperforming considering their big lead-ins from Arrow and The Vampire Diaries.  They’re probably extended because HART OF DIXIE, BEAUTY & THE BEAST and THE CARRIE DIARIES are all floundering.  Carrie, it’s been made clear, won’t get a back order this season, but could theoretically return next fall (don’t count on it), and at least one of Hart and Beauty will probably go–more likely Beauty, since next year would be Hart‘s magic Season 4.

The Big Picture

Fall 2013 Week by Week Primetime Averages

Adult 18-49 Rating (Live+Same Day), Weekly Winner in Bold

It was a bad week to be FOX, as the end of the World Series, no Sunday NFL overrun (and thus no boost for the Sunday animations) and X Factor combined to push the network into 4th place.












2013-14 Season to Date Averages Weeks 1-7

Primetime Adult 18-49 Rating (Live+Same Day)


With FOX’s lousy week, all 4 major networks are now down from last season


           2013……..2012…..% chg




CBS….. 2.20……..2.33……-6%


FOX…..2.18……..2.26…… -4%


ABC…..1.96……..2.14…… -9%




5-Net….9.66…. 10.14…… -5%

Note:       2013: 9.23-11.7.2013 official nationals, 11.8-11.9.2013 fast nationals, 11.10.2013 adjusted fast nationals

                2012: 9.24-11.11.2012 official nationals





About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."